“Morning comes later now,” she said, the toes of her bare feet sensing the reassuring firmness of the floor as she lifted herself from bed. The darkness of the room felt richly dense as she moved through it towards the window, the amber light of the streetlamp below spilling in as she opened the curtain, revealing the world ignorance of her.
A difference had come to her during the night, though she had been unaware of its arrival when it came. The change felt soft, like the removal of some uncomfortable garment, though she could not help but doubt its intention. “I have been deceived by you before,” she said to the softness; “you are not, by necessity, a friend—neither are you sufficient as one.”
The clock ticked angrily from its home on the wall behind her and her heart paced itself accordingly. She had been unable to move herself from the window and a shadow stretched from her sharply as the sun rose to expose her self to its plot. This difference felt deliberate, an adjustment of yesterday’s conclusion to demand newness from this day as it approached.
“Whatever shall I do?” she asked her shadow, it stretching even further from her as if oddly repulsed. “Must I accept this change as a benefit, pure and simple, and go along with its suggestion? It feels wrong, somehow, though perhaps that is little more than my innocence recoiling, my experience of life toying with me devilishly. Has it not been my plan to make rearrangements, to do things differently, just as this difference is asking of me now?”
She became unglued and thusly moved, herself having split in two as she stepped from the window into the rooms of her day. The floor felt evermore reassuring beneath her, as if it were the sole thing to be trusted, and she became overwhelmed by her gratitude for its presence. Perhaps there was a possibility within this difference, just as its softness suggested. Perhaps the warmth of its embrace could be perceived as genuine rather than somehow deceitful—as she had led herself to believe. She became one again as she bled into herself, a faint smile spreading across her face.
Her shadow blurred into the wall behind her, it no longer requiring definition. Her perception moved from within to without and the world turned to recognize her, as if it knew her all along. “Perhaps I am not as terrible as I believe myself to be; perhaps I should treat myself with the selfsame tenderness that this difference has offered me. Could it be that I might exist outside of my own being, that I am somehow worthy of breathing?”
The day nodded as it consumed her shadow entirely, for there was no longer a wall to hold it. The clock quieted itself, then slowed, and moments became manageable as she inhaled and greeted her self as if for the first time, her feet finding soil beneath her, her heart to hold as her own—herself comforted at last.
Beatrix Potter’s secret, coded journal took an admirer thirteen years to translate.
As codes go, Potter’s wasn’t inordinately complicated. As Wiltshire explains, it was a “mono-alphabetic substitution cipher code,” in which each letter of the alphabet was replaced by a symbol—the kind of thing they teach you in Cub Scouts. The real trouble was Potter’s own fluency with it. She quickly learned to write the code so fast that each sheet looked, even to Linder’s trained eye, like a maze of scribbles.